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Posted on27. Nov, 2014 by Admin.
Health Canada’s troubled medical-marijuana program is again under fire, with the launch of the first court challenge by a company denied a government licence to grow the product commercially. Lawyers for New Age Medical Solutions Inc., which has a grow facility in rural British Columbia, filed a motion in Federal Court last week against Health Minister Rona Ambrose, asking that a judge review the decision not to grant a licence.
The company, founded and run by marijuana activist Sam Mellace, applied almost a year ago to become a licensed producer, under new Health Canada rules that are creating a billion-dollar commercial industry. Health Canada rejected the application Aug. 10, saying the firm had not hired an acceptable quality-assurance specialist. Mellace retained the Toronto firm Chaitons LLP, which is seeking the court’s permission to extend a deadline for legal action. Papers were filed last week. Mellace could not be contacted and his lawyer declined comment.
An Ottawa lawyer who specializes in assisting companies with their grow applications to Health Canada said the case may trigger other legal challenges from companies denied licences. “I know, speaking to many applicants, that nobody really wanted to be the first one,” said Trina Fraser. “The barn door is open now.… There’s a feeling there’s strength in numbers.”
Health Canada swamped
As of last month, 226 applications had been refused, said Health Canada spokesman Sean Upton, who confirmed the department has been advised of the legal challenge. Health Canada has been swamped with more than 1,100 applications from firms wanting to cash in on an industry the government says could be worth $ 1.3 billion in a decade. Only 22 licences to produce have been issued, none in the last few months, while some 291 are still in process. (About half of all applications have been returned as incomplete.)
Fraser said the approval process has slowed to a crawl, prompting other complaints to Health Canada as investors get nervous about whether there will be any payback. “Everybody’s going bananas, out of their minds, frustrated with the process,” she said. “A lot of these applicants have already started or finished construction, they’ve got investors to answer to, and they’re burning through money like crazy.”
Canada’s commercial medical marijuana industry kicked into high gear in April this year. The department has dramatically changed the rules of supply, from a cottage industry in which approved patients grow their own or buy from small producers, to a free-enterprise system with no limits on the number the large-scale growers charging what the market will bear. The changeover has come with problems, including a so-far successful court challenge that allows some patients to continue to get their supply under the old rules, three product recalls and complaints about the initially high cost of medical marijuana in a free market.
Company may shut down
Mellace has a 6,000-square-foot facility near Mission, B.C., now empty and not in production. He said he has invested some $ 1 million in the project, half of it for research and development, and that he planned to employ between 60 and 150 people.
“The failure of the minister to issue the company a licence is highly prejudicial and will cause the company to have to shut its operations,” says the court filing in Toronto. Many of the 291 firms with pending applications for a lucrative production licence have their own grievances, as an opaque approval process leaves them guessing about when, if ever, they’ll get a licence. “They’re changing the rules as they go,” said Fraser, who has acted for or spoken to dozens of applicants. “There was certainly a first-mover advantage because the bar is much higher now.”
Health Canada, she said, has cranked up security requirements since the first wave, leaving firms now in a “never-never land, security-clearance abyss.” Many businesses still in the queue are hurting financially, their lawyers say. Simply assembling the paperwork for a credible application is about a $ 50,000 investment, followed by leasing costs for facilities and payroll, which can drive costs over a million dollars.
Fraser cites documents she obtained under the Access to Information Act as showing that what had been a two- to three-month application process in 2013 has become an 18- to 24-month ordeal, partly because new security requirements appear to have created a backlog at the RCMP, which does inspections under the new program.
Vancouver lawyer Kirk Tousaw, who has worked with many applicants, agrees that Health Canada’s processing has ground to a halt. “The application process has essentially come to a standstill and there are dozens, if not hundreds, of people that want to be growing and selling medical marijuana to sick Canadians that have had their applications disappear into the void.”
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Website: Medical marijuana applicant takes Health Canada to court – Politics – CBC News
Posted on26. Nov, 2014 by Admin.
One of the policy areas in greatest need of reform involves the typical response of our child custody system in this country when they learn that a parent smokes marijuana; in all states today, including those that have legalized marijuana either for medical use or for all adults, the child custody agency stubbornly maintains an unfair bias against parents who smoke marijuana.
I suspect most of us have personally witnessed the disruption to someone’s life that results when, for any of a number of possible reasons, a parent’s marijuana smoking becomes known to the state’s child welfare agency. Sometimes it is because the couple are going through a hostile separation or divorce, and one parent attempts to use the other’s use of marijuana to gain advantage, either to limit that parent’s access to the children or to get a more favorable financial arrangement. Other times it begins with the complaint of a nosy neighbor who claims to have smelled marijuana (or to have seen someone smoking it), and who calls the authorities.
Regardless of the origin of the complaint or the motivation of the complaintant, once the state’s child welfare agency is called into the dispute, a legal process is begun that will all too often be disruptive to the health and welfare of the child, the very opposite of the stated intent of the inquiry. It is also an expensive and heartbreaking experience to a parent or parents who have to hire lawyers and focus their life for months on end jumping through any number of legal hoops to demonstrate that, despite their marijuana smoking, they remain loving parents who provide a safe and healthy environment for their minor children.
To understand this awkward legal squeeze all too many parents find themselves facing, it is important to realize we have parallel legal systems in effect in these states: one deals with what conduct is or is not criminal; the other focuses only on what is in the best interests of the child. And even as we continue to make progress removing the responsible use of marijuana from the criminal code, either for medical use or for all adults, the child custody courts in those same states continue to begin any inquiry with the presumption that marijuana smokers are not fit parents, and marijuana smoking by adults, even when it is protected conduct under that state’s laws, is dangerous to any children and evidence of an unhealthy environment in which to raise a child.
Posted on24. Nov, 2014 by Admin.
Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe recently announced he intends to pardon a young man convicted of a marijuana-related felony. The governor emphasized the importance of having a chance to get one’s life back on track following such a conviction, especially for young people. Local press covering the pardon emphasized another aspect to this story: The young man is the governor’s son, Kyle Beebe. Kyle was convicted of “possession with intent to deliver marijuana” in 2003.
In 2012, over 5,700 people were either arrested or cited for marijuana possession. Another 555 people just like Kyle were charged with felonies related to marijuana. Only a fraction will have an opportunity like the one Kyle has. Instead, most will face a lifetime of discrimination: A criminal record that can hurt job prospects, housing, and educational opportunities – long after the court sentence is over.
Arkansas needs a better approach. Like 19 other states, it can remove possible jail time for simple possession, bringing relief to thousands. If you are an Arkansas resident, click here to ask your legislators to support imposing a civil fine — not a criminal conviction — for simple possession.
Even better, Arkansas should implement a system to tax and regulate marijuana for adults who choose a substance that is safer than alcohol — just like Alaska, Oregon, Washington, and Colorado. Why continue the reefer madness when there is now a better way?
Posted on22. Nov, 2014 by Admin.
Dear NORML Members and Supporters:
Please allow me to wax nostalgic for a moment or two about the wonderful progress we have all seen in recent years, with a majority of the country now supporting and end to prohibition, and the adoption of various forms of marijuana legalization in many states. The political environment was not always so favorable.
When we started NORML in 1970, only 12% of the population supported legalization; 88% supported prohibition. It has been a long, slow and sometimes arduous effort, but we have finally won the hearts and minds of most is our citizens, despite the fact that only 14% are marijuana smokers. They have concluded that prohibition causes far more harm to society than the use of marijuana, and that regulating the sale of marijuana is the better policy.
With our recent spate of victories at the state level, currently 17 states and the District of Columbia (and several major cities) have stopped treating marijuana smokers like criminals; 23 states and the District of Columbia offer legal medical marijuana; and four states have fully legalized marijuana with state-licensed dispensaries. We have reached a tipping point in the decades-long drive to legalize marijuana, and with your continued support, there is no turning back!
And we can already see the benefits: for the fourth year in a row the number of Americans arrested on marijuana charges has declined. And these declines will only increase as we move forward with victories in additional states. We expect full legalization voter initiatives to be approved in 2016 in California, Nevada, Massachusetts, and Maine (and perhaps a few others that are only now being organized).
NORML’s Work Has Just Begun
In each of these legalized states, the real job of NORML is just getting started. When I founded NORML it was the result of some work I had done with consumer-advocate Ralph Nader, and I envisioned the organization as a Consumers’ Union for marijuana smokers. As a consumer lobby, we must work to assure the smokers have access to legal marijuana that is safe, convenient and affordable. We must demand that the marijuana be tested to assure there are no molds or pesticides, and we need to know the strength of the THC and the CBD, and to know what terpenoids are present. These are basic consumer rights that we could not get when marijuana was only available on the black market, but which we have every right to expect in a legal market.
And to encourage the newly legal marijuana industry to abide by a set of “best practices”, we have established the NORML Business Network, to help consumers recognize “consumer-friendly” companies. As in any new industry, there are some whose only interest is to maximize their profits, but many of these new companies feel a responsibility to adopt higher standards. The NORML Business Network will help consumers distinguish between the two.
4 Down – 46 To Go!
We obviously have much work to be done before we totally end marijuana prohibition and stop the arrest of responsible marijuana smokers all across America. But we have made a substantial start, and the public support and political momentum is clearly on our side. With your continued support, we will see this fight through to a successful conclusion, and set a standard for the rest of the world to follow.
Please make a generous contribution to NORML today of $ 50 or $ 100 or $ 1,000 or whatever you can afford. If you wish to make a tax-exempt contribution, make your donation to the NORML Foundation. But please do your part to recognize the tremendous progress we have made over these last four decades, and to assure we continue that progress in the months and years ahead. Donate $ 50 or more and receive the new documentary DVD called ‘EVERGREEN: The road to marijuana legalization in Washington State’.
NORML Founder and Legal Counsel